Sunday 22 November 2020

Grand Slam quarters

Price has gone, that's fairly surprising, other than that we didn't see too much of a shock, other than perhaps the size of van Gerwen's victory.

Half tempted by de Sousa. He is available at 6/5, but the issue is this is a rematch, and he didn't really lay a glove on Smith in that matchup. I should probably still go with it, but it's the first time he's been in a really, really long match so it's a bit uncharted waters as to how he responds if Smith turns up, which over the last month has looked increasingly like it will be the case.

Heta/Wade next, one of three rematches - I really don't like the way they get rematched so quickly, it creates too many rehashed games. Either put them in separate halves as any other tournament would, or organise the bracket so the redemption game is the semi final. The market looks close to right in this one, Wade's 4/7 and I do see him as a favourite, albeit maybe not quite so strong - 8/11 might be a bit of a fairer line. It's not quite enough for me, similar to the previous game there's a bit of an unanswered question as to how Damon will react to a longer form game than he's played before, I think he'll react better than de Sousa (proportionately at least), but the additional issue is that this format is perfectly suited for Wade.

Evening game one is Dimitri against Aspinall, line looks pretty much perfect here. I'm looking at a 55/45 game, Aspinall is available at 11/10, maybe if you think Dimitri's form will continue, which is a perfectly reasonable assessment, then you take the 5/6 that is available, knowing that it is a neutral bet on long form, and hope that van den Bergh's excellent play will allow him to outperform. Nothing wrong with that if you do it, but I won't explicitly recommend it.

Finally it's van Gerwen against Whitlock, the only game that isn't priced up fairly closely. Now I have a problem here - I've usually bet against van Gerwen at will, and over the whole year van Gerwen hasn't been playing great, and Simon's been a bit better than in 2019, or for a few years in fact. So much so that the figures say he should win this nearly one time in three, easily more than one in four. We can get longer than 4/1. But does anyone really think that Whitlock still has it in him to take sixteen legs off of the world number one when said world number one has actually looked like showing up this week? I don't think so.

So no bets here, but as an aside, let me redo a piece I've done previously now that we're at a best of 31 stage. There'll be plenty of people making out the point that this is going to be a great advantage for the better players, and yes, it will be, but I think people overestimate the importance.

For clarity, let me remind you how my prediction model works - it takes the distribution of how quickly players win legs, uses that to give a percentage change of each player winning on throw, then runs it against each other until we get a match percentage. Like most statistical things of this nature, it assumes legs are independent variables, if you want to go into things like stamina, "streaks" etc you need to use manual judgment afterwards. So how much difference does it make? Let's pick a few games from this tournament, and compare a group stage match to a quarter final match:

Cross against Chisnall from the group stage is first up. Here we thought Dave was a very small favourite in the groups. In a quarters, he's still a very small favourite - the edge he's got isn't big enough to become really significant unless you start going to a much, much longer game than we ever play. It only adds 3%. Now let's go to the other extreme:

Not intending to specifically pick on Ashton here, but if Ashton is not even projected to win 14% of the games in a best of 9, then it can't actually drop that much further in a best of 31. Imagine if we'd got someone even weaker (relatively) than Ashton, and Jose was over 90% to bink a best of 9. It can't go up 10% from there. Here, it does go up quite a bit, but what you're looking for is something roughly in the middle:

Here, Ricky Evans drops from having nearly a one in three chance of winning the match, to having less than a one in five chance. That's a pretty big swing.

It's a natural conclusion to make - for the length of a match to make a difference, the players need to have some notable difference in skill so that they're not so close to begin with, but also not so differently matched up that even a short game ought to be a one-sided bloodbath.

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